The church came into Jalissa's view as the group made its way towards the ringing bell; everyone's nerves were on edge as they neared the church. Jalissa's eyes scanned the building looking for a bell tower, but there was none instead it was a recorded bell ringing. Her heart sank as they entered the church and nothing was there except some scraggly looking walkers sitting in the pews. Jalissa's heart started to race as the walkers started making their way over to the group. Rick brushed by her and bringing up his arm with the machete in it and swinging slicing, into the walkers head spraying cool blood across the small building. Shane and Daryl took care of the other two walkers with two easy blows to the heads of the snarling beasts.
Jalissa walked up the narrow walk way and sat in the front pew, folding her hands to pray and bowing her head. God, I don't know if you are still listening or even around, but if you could take the time to listen to me it would be appreciated. Sophia is just a little girl, she's scared and alone… she doesn't know how to live out here all alone… please help us find her… I won't ask for anything else if you just give Carol back her little girl… and keep our hopes alive. She liftedher head and wiped a stray tear falling from her eye.
"Hey, you okay," Rick's voice echoed in the now almost empty church except for her Rick and a praying Carol.
"Fine, maybe we should give Carol some alone time," Jalissa offered.
Rick nodded and offered his hand helping Jalissa up, she wiped her sweaty hand in her jeans and took his extended one. God, who said gentlemen didn't exist anymore; maybe she was just looking in the wrong spots… He held on to her hand a little longer than expected before dropping it and clearing his throat and taking the lead out of the church.
"What's next," Jalissa asked Rick.
"Honestly, I'm not sure…" he paused "Shane and I could take a look around here before we head back to the road," Rick decided.
"You sure you wanna take Shane," Jalissa made a face.
Rick rubbed the stubble on his chin considering what Jalissa said "You wanna go with me,"
"Yes," Jalissa answered a little too quickly for her liking butterflies in her stomach starting to flutter.
A small smile crossed his face which made the blood rush to her face in embarrassment.
"Dad!" Carl ran over "I wanna help look for Sophia, She was my friend and I wanna help find her,"
Rick took a breath and bent down to his son's height, "What did your mother say," Rick shot a glance at Lori; she gave a quick nod.
"Well that settles it, you're coming with me," he paused and look at Jalissa "You mind if she comes," He pointed to Jalissa.
"Nah, she really nice and she's Shay's cousin's friend so she's cool," Carl answered making Jalissa smile.
"You heard him," Rick said as he looked back up at Jalissa a slight smile on his face. "Just give me one second," Rick walked off towards Daryl surly to say something about what he wanted Daryl to do.
"So you're goin' out with Rick," Fallon's voice surprised Jalissa.
"What!" Jalissa jumped "Oh, yeah…" She didn't know what else to say.
"Cool," Fallon answered raising her eyebrows a little. "You sure you're ready to go out there,"
"Yeah… I think I am," Jalissa replied not so sure she was telling the truth.
"I hope so, I mean Daryl and I didn't see anythin', walkers I mean, out there but just be careful,"
"I will be," Jalissa's voice was appreciative of Fallon's concern.
Rick cleared his throat making his presence known, "Don't mean to interrupt but are you ready,"
"Yes, I am," Jalissa's voice was stronger than she felt.
Carl took the lead as the three of them entered the tree line, Rick keeping a close eye on his son as they traveled. With each swipe of the forest Jalissa's eyes would stop on Rick for a second before continuing the rest of the way. She was really glad he asked her to come, but he wasn't saying anything to her like she hoped he would; they were searching the forest for a lost girl though, so what could she really expect.
"You think we're guna find Sophia," Jalissa couldn't help but ask.
"We have to," Rick answered his light blue eye gliding to her.
There was a shuffle in the forest not too far from where they were standing making everyone freeze. Rick pulled his gun aiming it in the direction of where the sound came from. Jalissa stood there frozen her hand clenched around the handle of her clever. Rick took a step forward and reached his arm out grabbing Carl, pulling him back to safety. Jalissa still frozen in fear reached out her hand and pulled Carl in close, they couldn't lose another kid, especially not Rick's. There was another shuffle, but this time a deer stepped into view it's head down searching the leaves for food. Jalissa relaxed a bit and let her hand drop from Carl's shoulder when she saw Rick drop his gun to his side. The redneck would die right now if they saw how close this deer was to them. Carl took a step forward towards the deer, reaching his hand out to touch the surprisingly brave deer. Jalissa and Rick looked at each other, big smiles across their faces as Carl touched the deer.
"That's amazing," Jalissa whispered not wanting to scare the deer.
"Yeah," was all Rick answered.
A loud crack of a gun sounded in the distance, but before either of the three of them could register what happened the deer and Carl were thrown to the floor; blood leaking from a wound in Carl's stomach.
"NO," Rick yelled springing forward picking his bleeding son from the floor.
Jalissa's hand was covering her mouth her dark brown eyes wide as she watched Rick pick up his son. She snapped her head up towards a noise in the woods, someone running? A man emerged from the woods fear all over his face.
"I'm sorry…. I… I didn't see him," His words were rushed.
"There a place we could take him! Is it close," Jalissa's brain snapped into action.
"Yeah! A farm, it's that way, come on," The man pointed in the direction they had to go.
Rick didn't wait to hear anymore, he cradled his passed out son in his arms and ran in the direction the man pointed in. Jalissa sprinted after him trying to keep up with Rick the man following behind her mumbling he was sorry. How could this be happening right now? As if the situation they were dealing with prior to this wasn't bad enough, now little Carl is shot and bleeding everywhere; That's a sick fucking joke. Right then Jalissa decided she wasn't asking God for another thing if this was the way things were going to go. They broke through the tree line and ran through a field yelling for help to the people who were standing near the house. Rick must have ran through that field in two seconds because by the time Jalissa got near them Rick was already handing off Carl to an older man with thin white hair. Rick's bright eyes were red rimmed and tear filled as a young woman asked if the mother was around. How could she expect him to talk right now!
"No we have a group up near the highway, they are headed back there… they're probably still in the woods though," Jalissa answered for Rick.
"Which way," She asked.
Rick pointed in the direction they came in before going back to walking in a circle. Carl's blood stained the front of Rick's shirt, god… she couldn't even imagine what he felt like right now.
"Rick…" Jalissa reached out her hand and grabbed his forearm. "Carl need's you right now," her voice was soft.
He snapped his head towards her, cocking it to the side; his blood shot eyes staring at her face. "Yeah…" He straightened himself up and sprinted to the house "Come on," He called back to her.
They were sitting in the house outside of the room the doctor took Carl into; Rick was sitting on the floor his head resting on his knees. She wanted to say something to him, but she couldn't think of it… what do you say to someone whose son was shot right in front of them…
"He's guna be fine Rick," Jalissa voice was soft as she took a seat next to him.
He lifted his head and pressed it against the wall, fresh tears running down his face. "Thank you,"
She felt the urge to reach over and pull this pretty crying man in for a hug, just so someone was here to comfort him; so she did it. She reached out her arms and wrapped them around his neck, pulling the man in close to her. She ignored her nerves and what her brain was saying and held on to the man, gently rubbing his back. But when he wrapped his arms back around her the butterflies in her tummy went crazy, but she couldn't freak out now; not for Ricks sake. She did the opposite of what her brain was telling her, she followed her heart and held him tighter and whispered everything was going to be alright. Besides she never listen to her brain before… why should she start now? She heard the front door open and someone running up the stairs.
"Rick!" Lori's voice echoed through Jalissa's ears.
Jalissa dropped her arms reluctantly as Rick realized who was here. He got up and stared at her from down the hallway; she ran towards him and wrapped her arms around him, tears falling from her eyes. Jalissa got up front the floor, not wanting to intrude on their moment, but Rick stopped her before she could pass them.
"Thank you Jalissa," He looked her square in the eye before going into the now open room his son was laying in.
"Welcome, now go," she hid her smile and motioned for him to go.
Slowly she walked down the stairs, her mind rolling over the events of the last few hours. Sophia was lost, Carl was shot, Fallon thinks she has a debt to society, and she might have a crush on the sheriff… Great…
It was dark by the time they all, with the exception in Lori, made it back to the highway. Fallon was tossing and turning around in the back seat of the car, and it didn't help that Trev was snoring in the seat in front of her. She sighed; she really didn't think she was going to be able to sleep, not until they found that little girl. It was her fault she was gone and it was her who was going to find her, nighttime or not. Slowly she untangled herself from a sleeping Shay and slid out of the car as quietly as possible. Fallon shut the door and pulled on her boots before reaching underneath the car to get her broken axe. The thing was easier ot manage now that it was shorter, but she didn't have the reach that she used to when it wasn't broken… How far the weapon reached could be the difference between life and reanimation nowadays…
"Whatre you doin' up," Daryl's low voice asked.
"I could ask ya the same thing," She answered.
"Don't think ya need ta," he said as he looked into the forest.
"I'm coming," her voice was strong.
"Whatever, don't slow be down," he answered.
"Wouldn't dream of it," She answered sarcastically.
He mumbled something under his breath and started for the woods again with Fallon right on his tail. She was still sore from the fall down the hill today, but that didn't stop her from keeping right up with Daryl's pace through the woods they looked through already. Fallon widened her eyes, trying to get a better look at her surrounding that were only lit by moonlight.
"We're guna find her," Fallon finally said breaking the silence.
"I know we are, she's got people lookin' for her… That's more than I had," He said.
"You got lost," He sparked her interest.
"Yeah, for a week in the woods, lived on berries and shit hadda wipe my ass with poison oak, Merle was doin' a snit and my dad was on a binder with some waitress. Know what I did when I got home,"
"How could I possibly," She answered.
He narrowed his eyes at her "Made a sandwich,"
Fallon let out a chuckle "A reasonable thing to do after eating berries for a week, "she paused "Wait did you say you wiped your ass with poison oak?"
"Had an itchy ass for a month causea that," He admitted.
Fallon had to press her hand to her mouth to muffle the laugh that was coming out of her mouth, she didn't want to laugh at his story but she couldn't hold it back.
"It's not funny," Daryl said with a slight chuckle.
Fallon calmed herself after a few more giggles "Wow… Daryl I'm sorry that sucks, well if you go missing now… I'll look for you," Fallon said quietly.
He snapped his head in her direction looking surprised at what she just said, has nobody ever said that to him before? They were going to have to continue this conversation later because something was coiming into view as they made their way forward.
"There," Daryl said aiming his bow at what looked like an empty campsite.
Fallon's nerves jumped as her eyes found the tent Sophia could be hiding in. "Cover me," Fallon whispered as she passed Daryl and reached for the tent.
She opened the flap slowly, silently praying that Sophia was in there afe and sound, but to her disappointment she wasn't. Fallon felt the sting of tears in the back of her eyes, but not wanting to cry in front of anyone she held them back. A low growling made Fallon snap her head up, her alert green eyes searching for the walker that was close by.
"World went to shit, got bit, the fever hit, decided to end it," Daryl said.
Fallon cocked her head to the side and furrowed her brow "That was beautiful Daryl, do you write a lot," her tone dripping with sarcasm.
He scowled and shined his flash light on an emancipated walker hanging from a tree, wiggling and reaching down at the first meal he's probably seen since he hung himself.
"Dumb ass didn't know ta take out the brain," Daryl said pointing his crossbow to the ground.
"That doesn't mean we should leave it up there," Fallon said crossing her arms. "It's not his fault he was an idiot,"
"Yeah, it was,"
"Whatever, just shoot it Dixon," She waved him off.
"I aint waistin' an arrow on that idiot,"
"I'll get it after you shoot it if it's that big of a deal," Fallon offered. "What happens of the rope breaks and the thing falls and kills someone when it gets up,"
Daryl just looked at her like she was crazy "Whatever," He took aim at the growling walker and shot it between the eyes, the body immediately going limp. "Now git it smart ass," He stepped back.
Fallon glanced around at her surroundings, looking for something she could climb on to get the bolt out of the walkers head. "Gimme a boost,"
"Why," he snapped.
"So I could get your arrow," She answered in a stupid voice.
He huffed and took a step forward "What like a cheerleader,"
"That would work," Fallon answered looking up at the redead walker.
Daryl bent down and Fallon balanced herself on his cupped hands "Ready," he said softly not looking t her.
He pushed up and she went into the air his hands gripping her ankles tight enough to leave a bruise. In the air her face was next to the gray pealing face of the dead walker. She felt unsteady up there; there was no support for her to fall back on.
"Hurry up," Daryl snapped.
He was trying to keep her steady, but this was much harder than it looked. "Okay," She snapped back.
She wrapped her fingers around the part of the bolt that was sticking out and gave it a tug; the force of her tug sending her backwards. Daryl must have backed up with her because she wasn't tumbling to the ground at the moment. She felt the support from underneath give out, she let out a low yelp as she fell from the air. She shut her eyes and readied herself for the impact of hitting the ground, but it never happened. She opened her eyes slowly one at a time and looked around, she wasn't on the floor but her tiptoes were touching it. Relax she thought. Daryl's arms were wrapped around her small waist her body pressed to the front of his, his quick warm breath blowing in the back of her neck. He loosened his grip and as her feet hit the floor fully she turned towards him all the nerves in her body firing.
"Thanks," She said quickly looking up at his eyes.
"Yupp," He answered looking away from her and backing up from her a bit. "Stop makin' that a habit," he finished.
"Well maybe you should stop getting' me in those situations," She countered with a smirk knowing that was going to piss him off.
"What! You do it yourself," He grunted.
She let out a chuckle "Here," she handed him the slime covered bolt.
He took it from her and wiped the slime on his shirt before putting it back into the holder on the side of the bow. "Come on, we shouldn't go too far,"
"Don't wanna get lost and have to wipe out asses with poison oak and eat berries for a week," Fallon said sarcastically, starting to feel how tired she really was.
He shot her a look "Not funny, I can catch game now," he almost smiled at her.
"Oh good," Her voice was low.
They both must have been thinking the same thing because they both grew quiet, Sophia didn't know how to hunt or what kind of food she could eat in the wild… just another tack to put up against the girl on the growing list of reason's this was useless. But that didn't matter to Fallon, if there was even a slight chance the girl could make it, that was good enough. She had a feeling that Daryl felt the same way she did too.